The NHL trade deadline is just under a month away from happening in this shortened, last man standing season. Injuries will leave teams still in the hunt looking for replacements, or have moved faltering clubs into seller status. Positions in the standings will of course have more effect on anything, and that being said I’ll begin my preview series by the most obvious situations going forward.
This preview will focus on the young Edmonton Oilers. They currently sit in last place in the Western Conference with 21 points, which leaves them 6 out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference. I’m not expecting them to trade every player not on an entry level contract, but something along those lines. Many expected the Oilers to make the jump into the playoffs this year, but it’s become all too clear they still aren’t ready. Only makes sense that they ship out costly contracts and stockpile draft picks for what is shaping up to be a very bright future. Don’t be surprised if they make an actual hockey trade or two as well. I’m thinking something akin to the Tom Gilbert for Nick Schultz deal they made last deadline. Without further adieu here is a list of potential trade pieces and potential returns.
Ryan Whitney: Much like the rest of the team, things haven’t exactly gone as well as Whitney’s hoped they would. His role, ice time and production has all decreased dramatically in his first year under new coach Ralph Krueger. Whitney’s name has been bandied about in rumour mills nearly all season, and seeing as he is on the last year of his contract I expect he’ll be moved.
Possible return: At the very least a first round pick, and if they’re lucky a prospect.
Ales Hemsky: He was expected to get moved last deadline, but they were unable to get a return to their liking and signed him to a new deal shortly after. Hemsky has played great all season, and there has never been a better time to shop him.
Possible return: A first rounder, and a blue chip prospect.
Nikolai Khabibulin: If your team needs reliable goaltending depth, look no further than Khabibulin who is in the final year of his 4yr/$15M contract. At 40 years old he can’t be expected to step in and start, but he is about as solid an insurance policy as you can ask for.
Possible return: Mid to late round draft pick.
Eric Belanger: Eric Belanger is the quintessential third or fourth line center. He wins faceoffs, kills penalties and plays defensively sound hockey. He is also getting long in the tooth at 35, and his contract expires after next season. With a cap hit of $1.75M teams should be lining up for his services.
Possible return: A mid round pick, possibly two.
You can follow J.D. Burke for more hockey commentary, stats, tweets, etc. @WeveGotTwins and find his blog at We've Got Twins